Rangers center Blair Betts, who has helped lead the Blueshirts to the NHL's No. 1 ranking in penalty-killing percentage, has been selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association as the team's nominee for the 2009 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
|Blair Betts' tireless performance on the Rangers' top penalty-killing unit has helped him earn recognition as this season's Masterton Tropny nominee. |
Each of the 30 NHL clubs is entitled to one Masterton nominee, voted on by local hockey writers. On Monday, the five nominees from the NHL's Atlantic Division were annnounced, with Betts getting his first nomination for the prestigious award.
Each year, the Masterton Trophy goes to the NHL player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." The award was created to honor the late Bill Masterton, a Minnesota North Stars player who exhibited those qualities. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of an on-ice head injury. His death led to the widespread use of helmets in the NHL.
In choosing Betts as the Rangers' nominee, the local writers pointed to the 29-year-old's history of playing through injury in becoming one of the league's top fourth-line checkers and penalty killers. Betts has five goals and four assists in 75 games, but it's his defensive contribution that makes him such a key player on the Rangers, particularly as the anchor of the team's remarkably successful No. 1 penalty-killing unit.
Since its inception, the Masterton Trophy has gone to four Rangers players, including Jean Ratelle in 1971, Rod Gilbert in 1976, Anders Hedberg in 1985, and Adam Graves in 2000-01.
The Atlantic Division's other nominees for this season are New Jersey goaltender Scott Clemmensen, Islanders defenseman Mark Streit, Philadelphia forward Mike Knuble and Pittsburgh defenseman Mark Eaton.
The Masterton Trophy will be awarded at the 2009 NHL Awards broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on June 18, 2009. The awards show will air nationally on Versus.